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Genre: Arcade
Min OS X: 10.2.8    CPU: G3    RAM: 128 MB    Hard Disk: 2000 MB    Graphics: 16 MB VRAM

Bejeweled 2
October 14, 2005 | Marcus Albers

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I had a real problem writing this review. You see, in order to write a review, you actually need to spend some time in front of a word processing application of some type. But did you know that Word doesn't have a single gem to match with gems of like color? Frankly, it was hard to sit in front of my iMac and open anything else but an addictive little piece of evil. And my wife absolutely refuses to take dictation.

Of what evil do I speak? What could possibly keep me from my beloved text editor, web browser, and Splinter Cell? Bejeweled 2: Deluxe is my new addiction. If you think you can quit cold turkey, you've got another thing coming. Because once you sit down for a session of Bejeweled 2, you might as well kiss the time good-bye.

The play mechanics of Bejeweled are impressively simple. Swap colored gems on a board of 64 gems, trying to line up rows or columns of three or more of them. Should you successfully do this, the gems will disappear, and the gems above will fall into the newly vacant places. Should the gems fall into lines of three, they too will disappear. As chain reactions happen, the points you gain increase.

Bejeweled 2 has taken the formula of its predecessor, and instead of fixing what isn't broken adds a couple of exciting gameplay features to the game, both of which really add to the experience. If you are able to line up four gems in a row or column, the gems will disappear and be replaced with a single Power Gem. This glowing gem will sit unobtrusively on the board until it is combined with two or more other gems of its color. Once this happens, the gem does its best TNT impression and takes out the eight gems adjacent to it. If one of those gems is a Power Gem, it will explode as well, taking out more gems. With all of the exploding and new gems coming into play, it is possible to rack up some very impressive chain reactions if you can chain enough Power Gems together.

The second new type of gem is even more exciting than the Power Gem. The Hyper Cube is a gem that will only appear if you can successfully line up five gems of the same color. Once a Hyper Cube appears, it will sit unobtrusively on the board, just like the Power Gem. But, should you decide to swap it with another gem, it will send out a bolt of electricity that will destroy every other gem on the board of the same color. As you can imagine, it is important to use the Hyper Cube strategically. Perhaps you want to wait and get the cube lined up with a different color than it is already connected with. Your best bet, of course, is to try and swap it with the gem that has the most brothers on screen.

Besides the new types of gems, there are two new modes to play, giving a total of four gameplay modes.

The Classic mode is the standard game. The objective is to gather points and fill up the bar at the bottom of the screen to advance to the next level. If you run out of moves, the game is over. These games can be either short or long, since you are at the mercy of the random replacement of gems.

The Arcade mode is a timed game. The completion bar at the bottom will start half full, and go down from there. Your objective is to delete gems at a greater rate than the bar goes down at. If you can fill the bar, you will advance to the next level, where the bar will start going down at a faster rate. This game does not have the limitation of running out of moves, as the game engine will always ensure that there is a move on the board.

Endless mode is one of the two new modes. This game is a combination of the Classic and Arcade modes. It has the lack of a time limit, like the Classic mode, but also has the constant availability of moves of the Arcade mode. This makes for a very relaxed game that goes on, well, forever. As you complete levels, a "jewel meter" will slowly fill up. What will happen when the meter gets full? Considering you will have to make it through 50 levels to find out, it may take a while. Personally, this is my favorite mode. It's great just to sit there and look for good moves, trying to set up Power Gem reactions and Hyper Cubes, knowing that there is always another move, and that there is no time limit.


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